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Stupid or Genius? Two Dudes Open a Chinese-American Restaurant in Shanghai

via Flickr user Mighty June
via Flickr user Mighty June

Chinese-American food: not my thing. I didn’t grow up eating from white takeout boxes filled with sesame chicken, and I think fortune cookies are a terrible way to end a perfectly good meal. But this, I acknowledge, isn’t how a good chunk of Americans feel about General Tso’s chicken.

That being said, NPR did an interesting story about an 8-month-old restaurant in Shanghai called Fortune Cookie. Two Cornell University grads, David Rossi and Fung Lam, opened a restaurant serving Chinese-American food in one of the most international cities in the world. Shanghai, where my brother lives, has a bigger spread of ethnic cuisine (Uyghur cuisine, for instance, is popular there.) than any other city I’ve visited. You can also walk out the door of your apartment building, take five steps to a random street stand, and order 12 handmade soup dumplings for an astoundingly low price.

So why Chinese-American food in Shanghai, of all places?

Fortune Cookie’s patrons are mostly expats who miss the taste of beef and broccoli. But 40-percent are also Chinese people intrigued by this new kind of cuisine.

Bradford Pearson, who brought my attention to the NPR article, did some research after wondering what happens when you bring mixed cuisine to the cuisine’s country of origin. Imagine Olive Garden in Italy. How would it fare? Brad discovered Taco Bell didn’t do so hot in Mexico. Two years after it attempted integration into Mexico’s market, all the restaurants shut down. Then again, Mexico probably doesn’t have the same, large expat population that has shaped the culture, unwittingly or not, of Shanghai and the rest of China.

What do y’all think? Is this Chinese-American restaurant in Shanghai stupid or genius? Discuss.

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